Nine steps to getting
your website noticed
By Andy Tilbrook
IF YOU’RE RUNNING a business in 2011,
it’s a no-brainer that you need a website. But is
your company’s site in the fast lane of the
information superhighway or stuck in a cyber
Put another way, is it doing its job in
terms of driving customers to look at and buy
your goods and services? Does it appear at, or
near, the top of an online search?
No matter how good your site looks, it’s
wasted if your online audience is too small. As
most people know, you can pay to boost your
search rankings—Google Ads, for example,
will boost your standing, at a price. But there
are some free tricks and tools that you, or your
Web designer, can use to boost your ranking.
how to make a map. Several sites, such as
www.xml-sitemaps.com, will generate one for
you. Again, you’ll need to submit your sitemap
to search engines.
Photos lift your website’s appearance—
and they can also help search engines if
you’re canny with naming the files. So “Gucci_
Seattle_shoes.jpg” will help, while “shoepic23.
jpg” will do nothing.
Content is king when it comes to making your website visible to users, but put
yourself into the minds of your potential customers. Let’s say you’re a shoe seller in Seattle.
What would potential customers type into a
search engine? They might be looking for
Links from other sites to yours can
really boost your rankings, so it’s worth
getting involved in forums and discussion
boards and linking back to your site. But
beware of asking your best friend to link to
your site in exchange for you doing the same.
Search engines are wise to this tactic and disregard it.
No matter how
good your site
Search engines don’t just find your site
by accident—they need to know you
exist. At the very least, submit your site to the
“big three”: Google, Yahoo! and Bing (owned
by Microsoft). Key links:
looks, it’s wasted
if your online
Meta tags are optional HTML coding
elements that provide information
about a Web page. Your description meta tag
is hidden from view, but it’s a vital smoke signal for search engines. It’s your chance to
describe succinctly what your website is
about. So keep it short and sweet, but remember that each page of your website can—and
should—have a separate description.
Another key place to submit your site is
is an independent, nonprofit Web-monitoring
project that links to Google’s directory. When
you submit your site to dmoz, it will be
checked by a real human being—now there’s a
novelty. The downside is that human beings,
especially volunteers, take their time, so it
may be a while before you reap the rewards.
someone local to them, for a particular brand,
size or type of shoe. Now look at the text of
your website. Have you got all these bases
In contrast, a more visible device is the
headings you use on your website.
These are essential reading for search-engine
robots. Make them relevant. Better still, make
them feature your site’s keywords.
Does your site have a sitemap? It’s an
often-neglected file that gives search
engines a list of your website’s contents. The
good news is that you don’t even have to know
Keywords are hidden within the code of
your website, but they should cover any
search terms that your customers might use.
It is worth getting them right. Google’s search-based keyword tool (search “keyword tool” at
www.google.com), can help. Ironically, Google
doesn’t take any account of keywords. Other
search engines do, though.
Now, armed with this information, go
back to your website designer and check that
your site is search-engine optimized. There
are no guarantees this will result in more
business, but it will certainly raise the profile
of your site and put it in front of more potential customers. C
FEBRUARY 2011 ;e Costco Connection 25
Andy Tilbrook is a freelance editor and writer
in the UK specializing in business issues.